MMER2010: Set to challenge new grounds

Published on July 23rd, 2010

Last year we celebrated the 10th year anniversary of the Merdeka Millennium Endurance 12-hour Race, since its birth in 2000. As most would still remember, back in the late 90s, Proton used to organize a 300km race at Batu Tiga Circuit. The race was hosted to celebrate Malaysia’s Independence Day (31st August).

When the Sepang International Circuit was built, the race shifted to the newly built track with the winner being presented with a brand spanking new Proton road car, but the race was stopped in 1999 due to controversial circumstances (and we hear they’re still talking about them).

Enough of history stuff.

MMER2010 will be held from August 5 to 8 2010, around three weeks from today. Registration and Scrutineering will be held on August 5th (Thursday) for all classes as well as drivers’ press conference. Qualifying will start on August 6 (Friday). Pit exit opens for the warm up lap and the formation lap at 2245hours (10.45pm) on August 7th (Saturday) and the main race will begin at 0000hours (12am) early Sunday morning (meaning late Saturday night).

As you have probably noticed, the race will start at midnight instead of the usual daytime flag-off. We’d probably see a lot more vampires lurking around in the dark corners of SIC. If the vampire you’re looking at is smoking, has bald head and wearing sunglasses (yes, when it’s pitch black as well), it’s probably my editor trying to escape from work.

According to Razlan Razali, the CEO of SIC, the midnight start is to allow more variations in the race as well as to give the participants a run for their money with more than 7 hours of driving with the sun down with more cold air intake to their machines. To allow all the overseas ass to save a bit on their sun block, the midnight start will help them lose their shades as well as removing the advantages possessed by local thick-skin-I’m-used-to-the-blazing-heat boys.

It’ll also be great to the spectators, so that they don’t have to lose fifteen kilos just by walking around the mall area of SIC because of the heat, although there are some people (let’s not mention any names, shall we?) who should really consider doing it. You’re fat, woman!

Concerts and an array of children activities are planned for the mall area, with the return of the food festival. Spectators can take the opportunity to sahur there if they’re planning to repay their fasting debt.

Classes have been replaced with GT class, Sport Production (GT4 and FIA Group B with diesel engine >1,900cc) and Touring Production (Group N >1,900cc FIA Article 254, Group A FIA article 255, non FIA homologated and diesel engines) categories to conform to the FIA sporting regulation. “Basically, what we’ve done this year is to make our rules at the MMER similar to those adopted by top endurance races. Basically, the endurance race regulars can now take their race cars to MMER with minimum works on their cars, and Malaysian teams to take their cars directly for international endurance races, if they want to,” said Razali.

We were told that a Mitsubishi Evo X will be participating under the Touring cars category, Audi R8 (Team Audi Race Experience, German) will be driven by 5 times overall Le Mans champion Frank Biela, and VIP Petfoods, No.1 top endurance racer from Australia will be joining as well. Lotus F1 test driver, Fairuz Fauzy, will also be racing under the Mofaz Racing banner, driving an Aston Martin.

Petronas Syntium Team will be back this year to defend their victory from last year’s fantastic 1-2 win. A little trivia from this year’s race; Petronas Syntium Team have been designated with the number ‘1’ to represent their team, and it was completely random. This is a first in MMER history.

According to another source, SIC has more lights switched on during MMER than any other track in the world that support endurance races.

Pirelli is the official tyre for this year’s track session, replacing Federal Tyres, and Pirelli Tyres are compulsory to be used by the participants. “We want everyone to be on equal ground, as there were a few teams (ones with more moolah than the rest) using special compound tyres during the race,” explained Razali.

On other note, Razlan said he is exploring the idea of having a 24-hours race in SIC. “The idea should not deter us from exploring it. It has to be supported by locals, but it’ll depend on whether the locals can take it or not,” he said. Razlan also emphasized that the race will see triple the cost from operations to maintenance and it’ll be quite boring to spectators.

“We’re looking to the idea of hosting it next year, but it’ll be a one-off thing, depending on the reception. Most probably it’ll be a production car 24-hours race with factory engine and improved handling to make it last longer and more cost effective,” he continued.

Razali also explained about the rumoured Super Taikyu Special Stages that was supposed to be held in SIC this year. “The information is not accurate. The truth is, we do allow Super Taikyu cars to enter MMER without any modifications because they conform to the rules and regulations perfectly. But the problem is, the Japanese wanted MMER to be a round of Super Taikyu in SIC. Because we want to maintain MMER’s originality, and because they cannot oblige to the Pirelli Tyres requirement (Super Taikyu is using Yokohama), the request could not be met. Unfortunately, we see a drop in Super Taiku cars participating (from 5 to 6 cars to just 1 or 2 cars). Petronas Syntium Team’s cars are Super Taikyu cars, but they are willing to oblige to the Pirelli Tyres requirement,” finished Razali.

Now, can Petronas Syntium Team’s Z4s  fend off the ravaging hordes of Porsches, Lamborghinis, and the monster Audi R8? And can they maintain their position and number as the number 1 champion? We shall let the track decide come August 8th. See you in SIC.

words: Al-mu Syahrisyawal Ahmad  pix: Syafril Ismail


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